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Forks, Portland, Lyon - France, Paris - France, Portland and ending up in Bellingham.... the adventures of my life!

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

First Discoveries in Paris (Like as a 'habitant' et not 'tourist')

Well, it's been a long long weekend... well okay it's technically Wednesday today, but I feel like I have been non-stop since I hopped the train to Paris on Friday morning.

The goal?  Well first off to meet with the American Chamber of Commerce, secondly to apartment hunt for the big move in February.  As soon as I stepped off the train I realized the potential in Paris.. inspiration for my blog! There were so many things that I had to hunt for online, so many unanswered questions... I realized that this move is not only the next step in my life, but the next step to network, help others, and grow!

For example.. Consignes.  Had no idea what the word meant, but I realized that is was totally a necessary word when I decided to not lug my luggage around Paris.

The biggest differences between Lyon and Paris, during my short little pre-visit:

  1. Sheer size equation.  1 step in Lyon = 5 steps in Paris.  See, when I got around to analysing the map, and trying to figure out the RATP system, I figured, hey, that's not so far... I'll just walk it (like I do in Lyon).  WRONG.  I ended up walking... walking... walking... seriously.  My butt hurt when I hopped the 6:30 train back to Lyon on Monday morning.
  2. Mulitude of foreign shops.  I didn't realize how many shops were in Paris until I stepped out of the métro and saw everything I've been craving:  Chinese Traiteur shops, indian take-away, foreign grocery marts.  I discovered Rue St Anne... Needless to say for a foreign person it's literally a haven.  In Lyon we are limited to Asiatique shops in Guillotière, which my Chinese friend tells me is ran by Cambodians, sushi shops spattered about, which my Japanese friends tell me is ran by Chinese.
  3. Internationals. Everywhere. On the métro, I heard all walks of life- Russian, American, British... Paris is a hub for international expatriates.
  4. Métro trajet.  Normally the trajet in Lyon is about a 2 minute ride between stops, about 1 km.  In paris the métro hops about 3 km and takes about 4 minutes.  I literally spent like 40% of my time transferring in and out of métros.
And in my little discoveries that I made, in just three days, I realized how much I could teach to other expatriates going to either Paris OR Lyon.  Seriously!

Another reason I went to Paris was to sign the apartment contract for the apartment Bri lovingly hunted.  I was freaked out to sign for a place I never saw, but amazingly it went well... and already has a histoire.

The Chilean Apartment Owner
It was Saturday, 3PM, Bri took me out on our new streets to discover the beginnings of our new neighborhood and sign the apartment papers.  15 minutes into our walk, I was already beginning to feel a bit tired, but I pressed on, matching the pace with the speed-walking heel-wearing girls zipping past me.  Turn.  Straight.  Left.  Straight.  "Are we there yet?" I whined, getting exceedinly irritable as I was famished, thirsty and stressed to sign an apartment I'd never seen.  We turned a corner, and suddenly we were on a gastronome's dream even Cyrnosky probably turned in his grave.  I counted as we headed towards our apartment.  2 boucheries, 2 boulangeries, fromagerie, poissonnerie, patisserie... it was endless.  Fruiterie, floriste.  Wine shop.  All within a 5 minute walk from my new apartment.  Another corner, "See!", he pointed towards a badly designed building, upon entry smelled of cigars and perhaps slight urine-y?

I kept an open mind and headed up the stairs to the 2nd floor, as we greeted the owner I noticed the accent.  Chilean.  He introduced me to his wife, Claire, French, and started going off about the work he was doing, how it was important the apartment looked nice, how excited he was... I was left with Claire and she began to talk to me in perfect accented English.

"So, you come from America?  I once lived in San Francisco, I did an exchange there many years ago..." she trailed off glancing at me curiously, I took this as my cue, "Well, actually yes!  I come from Portland.. although I haven't been back in almost 2 years.  I love Paris so far.. lovely city really..."

Not sure how, but apparently that last phrase opened the I'll tell you all the personal gritty details about my family and my Chilean husband.  Off she went!  Husband died when she was 40, moved to Paris to nurse a broken heart, two young girls, met her Chilean lover who was also going through a divorce and had a child.  Odd family sort of stuck together through the years.  Husband's son is a director.. you know.. little projects... although he was married to an American.  Awful girl.  From New York.  Spoiled, father very protective.  She wanted to be a designer.. these closets were picked by her actually.  Oh you didn't know?  They lived here for 12 years together.  Now I think they are divorcing, she is back in New York and he's with a Romanian girl.

Well.  I didn't really have a story to match that, and thankfully the boys returned from business talks before I had to.

But.. it felt like an odd international family, and I actually liked the couple... a lot.  Even the Chilean said,
"Vous voyez?  Nous sommes une famille des internationaux.  Américaine, Chiléan, Français, Romaine.. internationaux!"

We arrived at 3:15pm and we ended up signing and leaving around 5:15pm.

Here are some photos of the new place:
Our Terrace..

The New York 'Closet' / Main Room

Main entry 
My kitchen.. only downside is the outdated appliances

Finally a BIGGER bath tub!

Even though the front of OURS is ugly.. the view we have is quite nice

Dinner the night after signing... 'Cantine des Tontons', and a giant BOAR head.


  1. Welcome to the neighborhood - hopefully now you'll understand what I meant several months back when I said that there is another side to Paris than the quartiers touristiques. The 15th is great place to live - you get good value for your money apartment-wise, it's safe and like you said, there are still a lot of local shops. I think you'll also be really impressed with the market on rue de la Convention. You'll also be just a few blocks away from a Tang Frères, which is an extraordinarily cheap Asian stores that also carries some surprisingly American goodies. And there are some great bio grocery stores in the neighborhood too, plus the park nearby. All in all, it's a great place to live!!

  2. It's actually very nice! Il est où?


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